Pohoda

Jak ukazují následující řádky, umožňuji Fredovi plný rozlet (a odpovídající dopad):

Although my handy Czech-English dictionary defines pohoda as comfortable or satisfied, that just doesn’t make sense. See, you have to start with the root word, and that is “hod” or snake. Add the prefix, “po”, which means “under”, and it’s clear that the word’s actual meaning is “under the snake”, which wouldn’t be very comfortable to me. Czech is so confusing…

pohoda etymologicky vychází a označuje činnost, kterou vykonával pohodný. Neuwithův výkladový slovník, 1936, Orbis.
/podotkl Sám Hawkins

Brother in Love

Hi Jiri:
Well, I guess I can’t disappoint my vast army of eager fans, salivating at the need to read more Fred’s Czech Mate. Here’s another feeble attempt at explaining my flawed and ineffective learnings from the Czech language….

Tchýně

Mothers-in-law
get a bad deal here. There is an old Czech joke that I first heard in 1990. I ran across it again when googling “czech mother in law”.
— Daddy, why is mother-in-law running so fast?
— Be quiet, son, and reload the gun.
According to my bargain basement Czech/English dictionary, “tchán” is father-in-law and “tchýně” is mother-in-law. “Tchoř” is pole-cat. All of these words are hard to pronounce. That “t” and “ch” combination is deadly. So “tchan” ends up sounding like “tucan”, which leads people to think I’m talking about a tropical bird .
I consider learning Czech to be not only a linguistic excercise, but also a sociological examination of the local culture. So when I see the word for daughter-in-law, “snacha“, my ingrained English makes me want to say “snatch uh”, which is close to a mildly pejorative term for female genitalia. Than I reflect that a tucan is a bird (for you English readers, “pták”, is a similarly vulgar Czech term for male genitalia) and I wonder just what goes on behind closed doors between fathers-in-law and daughters-in-law here. Since the father-in-law’s spouse has just been gunned down by his son-in-law and grandson (zeť and vnuk: see joke above), who’ll presumably have to spend at least a few years in jail, this leaves both the bereaved older man and the suddenly single but still youthful woman both in need of support and companionship, right?
Slovo dne readers, (and I mean YOU Naomi) after careful consideration and long reflection, I strongly recommend that you never allow your children to marry. The consequences are dire. Better to encourage them to have endless affairs (preferable with handsome foreigners like me) so that you never become a “tchýně“. I mean, you wouldn’t want to be married to a tucan who’s gonna seduce his snacha after you’ve been slaughtered by the zeť and vnuk, would you?

Strom

One of the most notorious, and successful, politicians of 20th century America was South Carolina Senator Strom Thurmond. He got his unusual name from his mother, whose family name was Strom. Like or dislike Senator Thurmond, you had to recognize he was a strong man…like a tree. In Czech, strom means tree. Compare this with the diminuitive, less powerful but also sometimes frightening, “stromeček”, or bush.

Floutek

Doznání lehkoživky Freda:
I’m pleased to have been recently called a “floutek“. This is a person of extraordinary laziness and disregard. He (or she) “flouts” conventions, offending many, achieving little. Therefore, “floutek“. I’m quite pleased with this. I’ve been searching for years for just the right word to describe my own unique lifestyle mixture of ignorance and complacency. The word “liny”, or lazy, just isn’t strong enough to do me justice. In my indolence, I have overlooked this lovely word, “floutek“, but no more. From now on, I shall endeavor to be the most “floutek” man possible. And if you don’t believe me, just have a look at the Fred Czech Mate archive for many examples of my “floutek” ways in the past.

Kde domov můj?

Ahasver Fred se pustil do naší národní hymny a neotřelým způsobem se snaží vysvětlit “vo co go”. Uvidíme jak nám vysvětlí novou hymnu USA, chystanou štábem poradců prezidenta Bushe. Má začínat… What is my social security number?…

This opening line to the Czech national anthem (called a national hymn here, for no doubt ungodly reasons) translates to, “where is my home?”. This was first uttered by King Charles the Fourth, who while personally investigating claims of black-market beer brewing found himself confused and disoriented in the narrow twisting streets of old Prague. “Where is my home?” he implored passers by, until a police officer apprehended the unfortunate ruler. After the customary beating (which was later broadcast on television, causing great embarrassment for all parties) the monarch was fined under the new traffic laws and allowed to sleep it off overnight.

Armáda

On 06-06-06 (Satan may have been involved), loyal Slovo Dne reader Mr. Dog made the following suggestion:

“In another edition of Slovo Dne, maybe Fred can explain why there is a street near the Dejvicka metro station named for the Czechoslovak “armada”. In English (and Spanish) an armada is a fleet of war ships, which would seem to be completely unnecessary here.”

Many people mistakenly believe the Czech Republic is landlocked. This is just not so. In fact, as long ago as 1610 the English writer Shakespeare wrote about the “Coasts of Bohemia” in The Winter’s Tale. As everyone knows, Shakespeare is the greatest writer England has ever had, so there’s simply no point in debating this. If Shakespeare says there is a sea coast in Bohemia, there must be. Not only that, but look at the indisputable fact that the Czechs don’t have an Army.

Instead, Czechs have an “armada”. This is a large number of warships grouped together, as in the Spanish Armada of 1588. Armada is also the name of a Java applet you can download here

The Czech armada is justly famous for the Battle of the Vltava, when an invasion force of Vikings were stopped just under the town of Melnik, where the Elbe and Vltava meet. Captain Raeda Orm was forced to withdraw his marauders before he was able to burn, pillage, and rape Prague. (Later pirates changed this to 1. rape, 2. pillage, and THEN 3. burn — for obvious reasons). Today this battle is celebrated every June by drinking beer in the local hospoda. In the spirit of this memory, I’m off to the pub now to conduct more in depth research for the always extraordinarily accurate slovo dne. Thanks for the suggestion Mr. Dog!

Hostivař

Continuing with place names. Hostivar is a place I once lived, until I found out what it means. “Host” means “Guest” (which is so confusing and downright contrary to common sense that I won’t even try to explain why this is…just accept it) and “Varit” means cook, especially by boiling. It’s lucky I’m so skinny. I was wondering why granny kept giving me food and then testing my pinky finger to see how I was fattening up. The chubby backpacker I once knew is no longer to be found. But I escaped, and having lived to tell the tale am now warning everyone to stay well away from Hostivar, or you’ll find yourself in the the soup pot.

Slapy

A slap is a facka, but Slapy is where you can find a large reservoir up-river from Prague. When you visit, you may see some pretty women sunbathing. If you make lewd suggestions to them, or try to kiss one who doesn’t care for it, you may find that you’ll get a lot of slaps.

Dejvice

One of the wealthiest places in the city of Prague is Dejvice. Well, it’s clear enough why it’s so wealthy. “Dej” is the imperative of “Dat” which means “Give”. “Vice” is the feminine form of “Vic” which means “More”. So clearly the people living in Dejvice are in the position to demand whatever you’ve got, and more. This is another place to steer clear of since you’ll inevitably be confronted by Rolls Royce driving mendicants who will demand that you give them money.

Bohdalec

We return to place names. Different quarters in Prague have been given names over the centuries that are just plain amusing to us foreigners. One of these is Bohdalec. This translates to “God Far Away”. My apologies to
any readers who may actually live there, but what are you doing? Tempting fate? Just begging for Satan to take over your souls? You might as well sign a contract in blood as live in such a neighborhood. Don’t say you
haven’t been warned.